The Outreach Office at St. Mary Anne's Episcopal Church in North East helps local families throughout the year.
But the demand for food and financial assistance is at its highest each December, according to volunteer Bobbie Brickner.
"We have more clients in the month of December than any other time of the year because people are forced to stretch their dollars so much further," she said.
To meet the increasing need, the Outreach Office developed a special Christmas program that this year will provide more than 100 families, including 256 children, with food, toys and clothing.
"It started out really small, but about four or five years ago, the need became a lot bigger," Brickner said. "We started seeing clients who were upset that they weren't going to be able to provide a Christmas for their children."
As a result, the church began to partner with other organizations in the community.
This year, the outreach office is being assisted by the North East VFW Post 6027, which made a financial donation that will help volunteers provide Christmas meals to each family; Toys for Tots, which provides Christmas gifts to participating families; and numerous local businesses and organizations that also made donations or sponsored a local family.
"This allows the parish to be able to concentrate on clothing for families in need," Brickner said. "We shop for basic things like coats, socks, underwear, pajamas ... "
The Outreach Office at 315 S. Main St., in North East, is open from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
While families still can apply for year-round assistance at the Outreach Office, however applications for assistance with the holidays are no longer being accepted due to the overwhelming demand this year, Brickner said.
Bob Alcorn, the coordinator of Cecil County's Toys for Tots program, said many local charity organizations have had to impose similar limits this year.
"The request for toys is up about 38 percent this year over last year," he said.
In 2009, Toys for Tots distributed 110,000 toys to 12,335 families in Cecil County through partnership with 25 local aid organizations.
This year, six more partners have been added to the list, yet many are still finding it difficult to meet the demand for holiday assistance, Alcorn said.
While the local Toys for Tots program has experience a decline in donations this year, Alcorn said it's not too late to contribute.
"We have 107 boxes out in businesses (and organizations) throughout Cecil County right now," he said.
They include Redners Market in Elkton, the Chesapeake City VFW, the North East VFW, Sun Pharmacy in Rising Sun, Ray of Hope Mission Center in Port Deposit and Perryville Outlet Center.
In addition, Patriots Glen Golf Club in Elkton will collect donations for Toys for Tots during a benefit event from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Dec. 10. Anyone who brings an unwrapped toy will receive a chance to win a free round of golf for four. More information is available online at www.patriotsglen.com.
To learn more about receiving toys from the Cecil County Toys for Tots program, local residents can call 410-658-1556.